Well, Valentines Day has come and gone, and while some women may have been recipients of some of the typical Valentines’ rituals such as roses, chocolate, dinner, a romantic card…, many other women are happy this day is over for a multitude of reasons. In truth, despite the popularity of Hallmark movies and romantic novels, this idea of “romantic love” is disappointing to many and elusive to a host of others. The stylized world of romance, love stories made of smooth roads and happy endings are just NOT reality.
In fact, I am convinced that much of the heartache and sadness in the world is related to relational issues involving some damaged form of love; lost love, unrequited love, toxic love, disillusioned love, unfulfilled love and the list goes on. Everyone on the planet has a need to love and be loved. It is an inescapable part of the human experience, but what happens when this need is not met. When it is damaged or broken irrevocably?
In order to discover an answer to this, we need to define the word love in a tangible way. While the dictionary defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection” this definition is sorely lacking in depth. First of all, we ALL know that “feelings” come and go, so an “intense feeling” is temporary. If love is our deepest need, it can not be defined based on a feeling. Second, “deep affection” is very ambiguous and vague. Affection means a “feeling of fondness or liking” so again, here is that word “feeling” which is nothing more than an impermanent emotional response. To further drive home the inadequacy of this definition, let me ask you — Do you long for someone to “feel” a strong “liking” for you? Is this enough to satisfy you? To meet your deepest need?
The answer is, of course, NO! No matter who you are and what your personal worldview is, this shallow form of “love” is NOT what you want or NEED in the core of your being! What we need is a different definition! Let’s go to the only place where TRUE LOVE can be defined, the greatest love letter of all time, the Word of GOD. From cover to cover, God’s love is on display. The theme of the Bible is LOVE, so this is where we need to find the correct definition! There are numerous verses that define love, but let’s just focus on one passage that can help us define it more precisely.
I John 4: 7-12
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (NASB)
So a few thoughts on the definition of real LOVE and how understanding it, can help us in our relationships:
- Real love comes from God…for (“God is love”) – This means, trying to find love apart from God is an impossible task.
- Real love can only be given by those who know God. (“the one who does not love, does not know God”) – Without a relationship with God, we can’t truly love anyone else.
- Real love is an action. (“God has sent His only begotten Son”). – Love is not just a word to be tossed around, it should be characterized by active displays.
- Real love does not have to be earned. God initiated love. “He loved us” first. A demanding, controlling relationship filled with unrealistic expectations is NOT real love.
- Real love is sacrificial. (“Sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins”) – Real love is not self-seeking. Although we are human and selfish by nature, if you are in a relationship with a person who loves himself more than anything else, this is NOT real love.
- Real love prompts us to love. (“If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”) – A relationship with God leads us to truly LOVE others. In fact, when we love others, we are bringing God glory because His love is shown through us!
The bottom line of all of this is, if you struggle in your relationships, then the answer is always to look at your relationship with God. What you believe about God and how he loves you is the #1 MOST IMPORTANT variable in how successful your other relationships will be!
Here are some examples of how not understanding God’s great love for you can affect your relationships:
- If you believe that you must earn God’s love, then you will do whatever it takes to “make” someone love you, or you will make others “earn” your love.
- If you believe that you are not good enough, then you will let others treat you as if you are not enough!
- If you believe that you have to meet certain criteria to be loved, then you will put expectations on others to behave certain ways to be worthy of your love.
- If you believe that your happiness (which is a feeling) is the most important thing (rather than God’s glory), then you will go in and out of relationships always looking for that fleeting feeling.
- If you don’t understand that GOD’S LOVE is the ONLY real love, you will continue to look for a human to meet this need and will ALWAYS be empty!!
THE TRUTH THAT YOU ARE LOVED BY THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE MUST PERMEATE PAST YOUR MIND INTO YOUR HEART. YOU ARE HIS “BELOVED” SO REST IN THAT LOVE AND LET HIS LOVE IN YOU FUEL ALL OF YOUR RELATIONSHIPS!
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